Recently, I've been mining a rich vein of products that seek to help developers with building or enhancing program user interface -- or what some programming geeks like to call "the presentation layer" in their systems and code.
When it comes to building powerful, familiar and good-looking UI modules, a key player is ComponentOne, a well-known purveyor of .NET tools and components whose product lines include numerous Studio Subscription tools that work with .NET and ASP.NET as well as within Microsoft's Mobile and ActiveX component frameworks. The company also offers a nice help authoring toolset called Doc-To-Help, and Response, a "self-maintaining, self-learning" tool that supports delivery of searchable knowledge bases via the Internet. The focus for this tip is ComponentOne Studio Enterprise 2005 v3, a comprehensive UI toolset for .NET based applications.
Latest version adds new DBGrid and Chart Features
This latest update to the software adds new features to its DBGrid and Chart capabilities, as well as boosting capabilities for handling bar codes, reports, window sizing, and file compression services. Here are some additional details.
In general, the DBGrid capability in Studio Enterprise provides access to all kinds of database contents, and provides tools for labeling, handling and delivering the results of database queries for display in a wide variety of tabular formats. The latest version includes more advanced grouping tools that support date ranges, date parts (year, month, day), alphabetic sorting, and solicitation and application of custom sorting criteria from users. This module also permits developers to manage visibility of columns dragged into the grouping area. In addition, the DBGrid capability now also permits developers to add and remove rows from results displays, update cell values, set underlying data types without requiring direct access to an actual data source. Presentation controls include gradients and alpha blending, visual grouping of like-valued cells, and so forth. Developers can also manage filter bar contents, table border styles, and split dividers.
In general, the Chart capability in Studio Enterprise allows developers to create data-driven charts and displays within program windows and panes. The latest version adds support for the doughnut chart type to an already broad collection of 2- and 3-D bar charts, pie charts, scatterplots, bubble charts, line graphs, and function plots. Enhancements to presentation controls include run-time highlighting of data plots, optimized rendering of large XY plots, tools to manage automatic creation and arrangement of chart labels, interactive and static data axis values and labels, and before-and-after event handling to support charting of custom data series. Other new capabilities include use of ellipse and polygon alarm zones, in addition to standard 2- and 3-D shapes, plus support for various statistical functions (min/max/mean/avg/stdev) for ChartDataArray objects.
Enhanced reporting capabilities add support for multi-column combo boxes and AddNewRow functions to display definitions.
There is a whole world of functionality and capability this toolset (visit the product page for more details and information, as well as a trial download link and purchase information). This toolset is incredibly powerful and offers some of the most comprehensive data plotting, charting, and presentation tools I've ever seen anywhere. It's offered as an annual subscription for $695 per developer, and integrates so thoroughly with VS.NET that automatic upgrades are handling through Visual Studio's own auto-update functionality.
Need more convincing? Check out the comprehensive online demos available to see examples and illustrations galore (they're also backed up with sample code available on the Web site as well).
Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at email@example.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.